Bladder cancer is relatively common cancer in the UK, with over 10,000 patients diagnosed each year in the UK

A new research centre which aims to overcome barriers for a common, but often overlooked cancer has opened at the University of Birmingham with a virtual launch event.

Bladder cancer is relatively common cancer in the UK, with over 10,000 patients diagnosed each year in the UK and approximately 40-50,000 patients living with the disease at any one time. Despite this, the disease is subject to a disproportionately small amount of research funding in comparison to other cancers and as such, bladder cancer patients have not benefitted from many of the advances seen in other areas of cancer research.

Bringing together a multi-disciplinary team from the University’s Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, School of Bioscience Sciences, and the School of Engineering, the Bladder Cancer Research Centre (BCRC) will build upon the work of the existing Bladder Cancer Research Group to translate biomedical science into healthcare benefits for bladder cancer patients. The dedicated centre has been funded through a combination of University investment and philanthropic donations, which to date, total £1 million.

The centre will be led under the directorship of Mr Richard T. Bryan, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, with all work centring around a number of core themes. This includes research into biomarkers and proteomics, led by Dr Douglas Ward, genomics and bioinformatics led by Dr Roland Arnold, novel therapeutics led by Dr Farhat Khanim, bio-medical engineering led by Professor Duncan Shepherd and clinical research and clinical trials led by Mr Prashant Patel.

The main goal of the centre is to undertake research that could directly impact bladder cancer patients and patient pathways. This will involve projects to reduce the need for invasive diagnostic techniques, ensuring that the right patients receive the right treatments at the right time, and developing new drugs and new surgical approaches.

Mr Bryan, Director of the BCRC, said: “Bladder cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK with one of the highest recurrence rates of any known form of the disease. Without the media profile or high levels of public awareness afforded to other types such as breast or prostate cancer, research into this area has received comparatively low levels of funding and as such, progress has been slow.

“By establishing the centre, we hope to overcome some of these hurdles by combining a range of disciplines to undertake important research that could be hugely significant in treating this group of patients, enhancing their quality of life and improving their prognosis.”